That is one description of the Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine that will be on display at the Australian National Show and Shine Euroa courtesy of the Benalla Aviation Museum.

This static engine display has been to our event before and never fails to attract a huge crowd, especially when it’s fired up. Amid a host of other engine noises which are common at our displays, the big Merlin simply dominates its environment. It is one of several around the world that has been preserved and maintained in meticulous working order by aircraft historians, such as the Benalla Aviation Museum.

Without doubt one of the most successful aircraft engines of WWII, the Merlin powered (amongst others) the Spitfire - the aircraft which won the Battle of Britain. Had Britain fallen to the Nazis, then the outcome of the war may well have been very different. For this reason then, the Rolls Royce Merlin is referred to by many as “the engine that saved the world.”

The Merlin was a development of the engines used by the Supermarine Schneider Trophy seaplanes which gained the World speed record in 1931. This 12 cylinder, liquid-cooled engine was first used to power the Fairey Battle bomber.

During WWII the Merlin was used in both fighters and bombers, which included the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito, Lancaster, Fulmar and some Beaufighters and Halifaxes. Built under licence in the USA as the Packard Merlin, it was used to significantly improve the performance of the Mustang.

It’s a 12-cylinder, supercharged, liquid-cooled, 60° "Vee", piston aircraft engine, displacing 1,649 cubic inches (27 litres) with a bore of 5.4in (137mm) and a Stroke of 6.0in (152mm).

Fuel consumption is quoted as a minimum 39Imp.gal/h (177L/h), and a maximum 88Imp.gal/h (400L/h).

Some of the Merlin's technical improvements resulted from more efficient superchargers, designed by Stanley Hooker, and the introduction of aviation fuel with increased octane ratings.(up to 150.)

More than 160,000 Merlins were built, the power increasing from 1050 HP (782kW) to 2000 HP (1,491kW) by the end of the war in 1945.

We always assumed that the name “Merlin” depicted the powerful wizard with many magical powers, as a tutor and mentor to the legendary King Arthur. Not so apparently. Rolls Royce had a habit of naming their engines after birds, and the “Merlin” is a small species of Falcon!


.. Ray Read